UK sets deadline to decide fate of UFO hacker Gary McKinnon

The Home Office is to decide by 16 October whether to extradite self-confessed hacker Gary McKinnon to the US

The Home Office is to decide by 16 October whether to block the extradition to the US of self-confessed hacker Gary McKinnon on the grounds of poor health.

The timetable has been set after the High Court intervened in July to end a stand-off between the government and the hacker’s legal team.

Gary McKinnon's extradition stalled after the May 2010 election in a disagreement over medical evidence that suggested he was psychologically so frail, it would be inhumane to allow foreign police to take him.

The High Court gave McKinnon two weeks to decide whether to submit to a medical examination by a psychologist under the direction of home secretary Teresa May.

May had been unsatisfied with diagnoses made by some of the world's leading experts in autism, who had said McKinnon was not fit to stand trial and that extradition would cause him so much torment he would likely commit suicide.

McKinnon has been diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome, a form of autism characterised by low emotional intelligence and can "meltdown" under everyday social pressures.

The home secretary wanted another examination conducted by an official Home Office psychologist. But McKinnon, backed by the National Autistic Society, protested that her official was not an expert in autism and could not understand his uniquely vulnerable condition.

UFOs and alien technology

He faces charges that he hacked hundreds of US government and military computers between February 2001 and March 2002 and caused damage worth thousands of dollars.

McKinnon denies causing any damage but admits hacking the computers, saying he was looking for evidence of UFOs and sustainable energy from alien technology.

McKinnon's extradition, approved by the UK government in 2006, has been delayed since then by court reviews, which have stirred controversy over the extradition treaty between the US and UK.

A Computer Weekly investigation found last year that while the Crown Prosecution Service must assess whether there is a public interest in bringing charges against someone in the UK, it has no such power over extradition requests made by foreign prosecutors.

McKinnon’s lawyers said in a statement that if the Home Office approves his extradition, they will take the case back to the High Court of Justice, which has scheduled hearings for 28 and 29 November.

McKinnon wants his prosecution be conducted in the UK, but the Crown Prosecution Service has declined to prosecute, contending the US wants jurisdiction and holds most of the evidence.


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